Quantum Break

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Authors: Cam Rogers
brother was about to cry. “The M-J field has been fractured, Jack. Wounded. Zero state. Complete, all-encompassing … stasis.”
    “I was warned.” Will was gone again. “I knew it. We knew it. I warned Paul, but he wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t listen. This could have been avoided, but now…”
    “This happened once before. I don’t think it’s permanent. When this ends those men in the funny masks are going to come to, kill me and kidnap you.” Then: “Why do they want to kidnap you?”
    Will didn’t hear. “Not the end,” he said, nodding. “Just a stutter.” Nodding more vociferously. “All right. Let’s go. We have to go.”
    Everything fluttered uncertainly: juddering in and out, sucked back in, paused.
    Jack grabbed his brother. “Run.”
    A torrent of gunfire annihilated the console, tore through the spaces where the brothers had stood, punched through all of that expensive white ceramic. The smoke-wall finished its rollout, flooding across shooters and targets alike, spot fires erupting and hissing amid the haze.
    “Lost visual!” someone shouted.
    “Under here!” Will shouted. “Beneath the machine. Maintenance recess.”
    “Pair off,” their leader drawled. “Secure the scientist, then get the bodies to the library.”
    Visibility was down to five feet. Jack kept his hand on Will’s shoulder, making their way through the pall. Will was leading them down the side of the gangway, while Jack kept his eyes on the probing green lasers.
    “Something’s real wrong here, Will.”
    “Is there no beginning to your insight?”
    “These wide-bodies are career players. Why they’re dressed for street theater I have no fuckin’ idea but you can bet there’s a reason. It’s the opposite of camouflage. They want to be seen.”
    Will stepped on shattered glass and four beams slashed toward them. Jack threw himself on top of Will as a three-round burst sang past his neck, hot.
    “Under the ramp! They’re under the ramp!”
    Jack dropped down into the maintenance ring. Will scrambled, Jack followed, his booted feet disappearing over the side as a pair of questing lasers slashed through the space they had just occupied.
    Jack hit the grill floor on his left shoulder. The smoke was thinner beneath the machine, the curving recess tight with the machine’s core suspended directly above them. Voices above called out their location: Jack and Will had given no one the slip.
    The squad leader, the one with the southern drawl, was giving orders. “Irene, radio Actual, have ’em get their bird in the air in five. Voss, Rodriguez, get the roof off this room. The rest of you secure this floor.”
    A voice overhead barked: “Sir, two targets are—”
    “Beneath that contraption, I know. Well? Go on. Go get ’em. Hey fellas? ”
    “Is he talking to us?” Will whispered.
    Jack motioned him to be quiet. Listened.
    He heard something. Listened again. A second time: ping.
    “Come on out.”
    Two canisters rolled over the lip of the recess, clattered to the grill, trailing orange. Gas.
    Jack scooped up the first, but it was in his eyes and throat before he made contact. Tossed the first one up, blind. A hand popped over the side, holding a Glock. The shooter waved it around, blasting off shots. When it was over Jack was curled fetal, choking, hands pressed to his eyes as the cloud from the second canister swept around the curve.
    Hands on his arm, pulling hard. Jack let himself uncurl and rise.
    “He’s reloading,” Jack rasped, and he slammed Will into the wall as thirteen blind rounds spanged and whined into tens of millions of dollars’ worth of technology.
    The shooter started coughing. “Ah, fuck, that stuff’s got a kick, don’t it?”
    “Boss? We’re meant to capture Dr. Joyce alive.”
    “I know, I know, was just havin’ fun. They’re fine. Go get ’em.”
    Will’s face filled Jack’s vision: he was wearing the protective goggles Jack had discarded.

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